PENINSULA - The fall razor-clam season will get under way Oct. 15 at all five ocean beaches if tests continue to show the clams are safe to eat, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Olympic National Park announced today.
Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch beaches are all scheduled to open for the first dig of the season Oct. 15-17 on evening tides.
A fourth evening of digging is also scheduled Oct. 18 at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks, where last year's harvest fell short of the number of clams available.
"Our experience last year showed that we have enough clams on those two beaches to provide some additional days of digging," said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.
Subsequent digs tentatively planned in November and December will follow the same pattern, Ayres said. All five beaches are scheduled to open for evening digging Nov. 12-14 and Dec. 30-Jan. 1, with additional digging opportunities Nov. 15 and Jan. 2 at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks.
The National Park Service has scheduled the proposed digs at Kalaloch Beach, which is located within Olympic National Park, to coincide with those at other coastal beaches. Final approval for digs at all beaches is contingent on the results of final marine toxin tests, which will be announced approximately one week before each proposed opening.
Although fewer clams will be available for harvest coastwide than last season, Ayres said the tides should provide a good year of digging.
"We're especially pleased that we'll be able to offer folks the opportunity to dig their way into the New Year, with the low tide on New Year's Eve, Ayres said.
Olympic National Park superintendent Bill Laitner added a safety note for evening clam diggers, especially at Kalaloch. "Kalaloch is considerably more remote than the other clamming beaches, and visitors should be prepared for primitive conditions. With no streetlights or lighted buildings in the area, flashlights or lanterns are a necessity."
Ayres noted that the idea of adding an extra day to razor-clam openings at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks was one of several proposals made by diggers during a series of public meetings conducted this month to plan the 2005-06 season.
Besides the openings announced through Jan. 2, there should also be enough clams on most beaches to allow for harvesting later in January, February, March and April, Ayres said.
Digging during the three scheduled openings will be allowed between noon and midnight. The best time to start is an hour or two before low tide, said Ayres, who recommends taking a lantern for evening digs. Harvesters are allowed to take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 they dig, regardless of size or condition. Each digger's clams must be kept in a separate container.
A license is required for anyone age 15 or older. Any 2005 annual shellfish/seaweed license is still valid. Another option is a "razor-clam-only" license available in annual and 3-day versions. Descriptions of the various licensing options are available on the WDFW website at (fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov).